Session Update, Week Four

Though it seems like we just began, last week marked the midpoint of the 2015 Session. Tomorrow is Crossover, meaning that after tomorrow the House can only consider Senate Bills and the Senate can only consider House bills. We are now less than three weeks away from adjournment of the 2015 Regular Session.

Healthcare

Yesterday afternoon the House Appropriations Committee released their finalized budget proposal. While I will highlight other budget provisions next week after the passage by the full House, I want to take a moment to focus on provisions in the budget that will help extend targeted healthcare safety net services to needy families. These budget provisions will provide additional treatment services to the seriously mentally ill, nearly double funding for Virginia’s free clinics, and build on past investments in community health services.

Last year the House of Delegates overwhelmingly rejected Medicaid Expansion. The House Budget does not include Medicaid expansion and does not fund Governor McAuliffe’s “Healthy Virginia” entitlement program. It will, however, strengthen the safety net for those Virginians who need it the most by increasing access to healthcare without creating a new government program.

My Legislation

Tomorrow final action in the House will be taken on several of the bills I am pursuing this session. Assuming they are all approved on the final vote on the House floor, seven bills will advance to the Senate. Of the measures I have discussed previously, HB 1698, HB 1701, HB 2029, HB 2314 and HB 2315 will move on.

In addition, I have two other measures that will be considered by the Senate that I have yet to discuss.

Bridgewater Split Precinct (HB 1699)

This bill corrects a split precinct in the Town of Bridgewater that currently impacts only about 22 voters. Split precincts can cause unnecessary confusion for poll workers and additional expense for localities and local taxpayers. This is simply a good government measure that seeks to eliminate this unnecessary House District split precinct. Delegate Landes, the other legislator impacted by this legislation, fully supports the bill and has signed on as a co-patron.

Lights on Motorcycles (HB 1700)

I had hoped to pass a bill that was broader in scope, but that was ultimately not the desire of the Transportation Committee where the bill was heard. HB 1700 as originally proposed would have allowed motorcyclists to utilize auxiliary lighting on their bikes. Currently, State Police does not permit the use of such lighting, even though nearly all of our neighboring states allow it. Motorcyclists like to utilize auxiliary lighting to improve the look of their bike, but it also serves the dual purpose of improving the visibility of a motorcycle, especially from the side profile.

While this language was ultimately stricken from the legislation, the bill still removes a strange provision in current code that applies a five second time limit on how long a modulating motorcycle brake light can modulate when applied by the operator. I’m not sure of the original intent for the time limit, but as far as I can tell it serves no practical purpose.

Visitors
While I was busy with committee meetings most of the week, I still had a few visitors from home. I enjoyed meeting briefly with our County Administrator, Joe Paxton, our Deputy County Administrator, Stephen King, and one of our Board of Supervisor members, Bill Kyger. On Friday, Supervisor Kyger was nice enough to speak in support of my legislation to correct the split precinct in Bridgewater. In addition, several of our local State Police Officers made the trip to Richmond, as well as Jen Blosser representing Crossroads to Brain Injury Recovery in Harrisonburg. Finally, Chad had the opportunity to meet with Jill McGlaughlin, a parent advocating legislation that would implement training requirements to help teachers identify students who may have dyslexia.